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ISAFP chief expects ‘peaceful’ SONA

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:49:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military’s intelligence chief said he expects President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s state of the nation address (SONA) on Monday to be “peaceful,” with only left-wing activists out on the streets for their traditional protests.

Brigadier General Romeo Prestoza, commander of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), said violence would erupt only if protesters “agitate” anti-riot policemen and attempt to go beyond their designated areas.

Prestoza said rightist groups have assured “higher ups” that they would sit out mass actions during Arroyo’s address before a joint session of Congress.

“Only the rallies [will take place], but the intention to harm people, we don’t see that,” Prestoza said in a phone interview. “[It will be] peaceful in that sense.”

“Agitation is foremost [problem foreseen]. If they [activists] have a specific place [for protests] and they insist on going beyond that, that will be the problem,” he said.

Prestoza said the rightists “promised not to join [the rallies] because they want peace.”

“They have grown tired. They are well-off and they could suffer if things get violent…They will not be involved in destabilization,” Prestoza said, even as he refused to identify the rightists.

Last Wednesday, Major General Arsenio Arugay, chief of the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), said there was no specific security threat to the SONA.

But Arugay said communist hit men or “Sparrows” are back in the capital, planning to assassinate prominent personalities and military and police personnel even as he played them down as a threat.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-07-25T08:11:52+00:00UTC07bUTCFri, 25 Jul 2008 08:11:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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